Role Models for Advent
The Sacred Scriptures and the Church provide two figures for us on which to model our lives in this Advent season as we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas.
One is John the Baptizer, the cousin of Jesus, who calls us to repentance – to turn from sin and follow Jesus more faithfully. He is an imposing, almost menacing, presence. He appears in the desert, wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts and honey.
The other classic Advent figure is the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Mother of God. She models patient waiting and faith, as she says “yes” to God’s plan and carries the baby Jesus to term in her womb. She seems so gentle, humble, quiet in the Scriptures and in our mind’s eye as we reflect on her presence.
But looks can be deceiving. Mary is strong. She is strong precisely in her silence, precisely in her humility.
You don’t think that’s true? Look at the example of a young woman, the newly-proclaimed Mother of the Savior, who treks several days’ journey on foot through the hills to visit her cousin Elizabeth and assist Elizabeth in her need (Luke 1:39-40).
Look at Mary’s great song of praise, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). In it, Mary proclaims that God has looked on her, his “lowly servant,” and God has “mercy on those who fear him in every generation.”
God has “scattered the proud in their conceit,” “cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty.”
These are radical phrases, and they come from the mouth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is not afraid to claim the truth that in Jesus and through the salvation wrought in Jesus, God is not afraid to turn human expectations on their head and favor those who are of no account as far as the world is concerned.
Quiet strength. Hopeful expectation that what was promised by the Lord will be fulfilled (Luke 1:45). Patience while the plan of God unfolds, and trust even when the details of that plan seem wildly improbable.
These are the attributes of the Blessed Virgin Mary for an “Advent” that prepares her for the birth of her Son and Savior. They are also the attributes that can give us an Advent that prepares us to celebrate the commemoration of our Savior’s birth this Dec. 25.
We ask the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church and our Mother, to pray for us that we may be more like her, the first and best disciple of her Son Jesus. And like her, we want always to look to her Son for the gifts of mercy, peace and salvation.
May the blessing of Advent and the joy of Christmas be with you and your loved ones!